An controversial American businessman, Russ George, has reportedly carried out a rogue geoengineering experiment in the Pacific Ocean off Canada’s west coast. The ocean fertilization experiment apparently dumped about 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the ocean in July, later causing a massive algal bloom. The geoengineering action is being called out by as a blatant violation of two international resolutions by lawyers and environmentalists.
Satellite images appear to have confirmed the rouge experiment took place. The NASA satellite image above shows yellow and brown colors where relatively high concentrations of chlorophyll were in August 2012, after the iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean. The experiment created an artificial bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometers.
The aim of the ocean fertilization experiment was for the algae to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide as it sank to the ocean floor, locking the carbon dioxide away. However, scientists have been debating whether or not ocean fertilization using iron filings can indeed lock carbon deep in the ocean over the long term, and what other serious environmental impacts it might have down the line.
Concerns have been raised that such experiments could in the process damage ecosystems, cause toxic tides, cause ocean dead zones, and even worsen ocean acidification. The effects are being monitored to see what the impacts will be of what is the world’s largest geoengineering experiment to date.
Image: Giovanni/Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA.